If you've not done so, please be sure to go back and read the first 3 installments in this series so that you can be "up-to-date" on everything leading up to today's blog entry.
In the last blog I talked about the fact that bullying has been around for a very long time - perhaps even since the beginning of time. Does the fact that this problem has been around so long leave us with no hope of being able to do anything about it?
Before I get started with some suggestions of what we CAN do let me first state that I don't think we will ever completely rid our world of this problem. Again, that doesn't mean that we throw our hands up in despair thinking that there is nothing we can do if we can't stop it completely. There are a LOT of problems that have been around in our world for a very long time that we have the power to IMPROVE even though we cannot rid our world of them forever. Crime, for example, is one of those problems that fit this thought.
Along that same line let me also say that all the rules and laws in the world will not rid our world of this problem. So, am I saying that we should not have consequences in place for those that bully others. Not at all. I just want to make sure that we understand that, though it is important to have rules and punishments in place to serve as deterrents, these will still never stop the problem completely. Again, look at crime of any kind and you will see this point played out.
All of that being said brings me to this main point: IF WE ARE TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN THIS AREA THEN WE MUST REALIZE THAT THE ANSWER MUST START WITH US!
The solution - the ANSWER - must begin with you and with me. We cannot wait for others and we cannot wait for and expect rules and laws to do it for us. WE, friend, must take action and we must take action NOW!
So, here are a few suggestions that I have to help. I would love to hear your feedback and additional ideas that you may have about this as well.
1. ADULTS must set the example! Young people often (if not always) pick up their ideas of how to treat others from their parents or other adults that are around them. This can be parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles as well as people like teachers and coaches. How do THESE people treat others? I have seen, heard and experienced some of the most hateful and rude actions and words come from adults. And, sadly, many times in the presence of a young person. What do you think the young person learns from what they observe from YOU?
2. ADULTS must be AWARE! There are several ways that we, as adults, must "open our eyes" and be aware at how prevalent this issue of bullying really is in our world. Here are a few examples:
a. Be aware of your surroundings - I know that some will think I'm going a bit far in this but I feel that this is part of the problem. We don't want to see things as they are and then we want to scratch our heads and wonder what the problem is. Pay attention to what is coming into your home via your television, for example. Have you ever paid attention to how many television programs have "misfits" in them? Sure, sometimes the programs do this and try to teach a lesson on "acceptance" but, often, it is done for comedic purposes. Adults, what are YOUR comments about such a character as you watch a program like this? What kinds of comments come from YOUR mouth? "Oh, but it's just a television show!" Sure it is, but the words that come from your mouth are REAL and the ears that travel into the minds of those young people around you are REAL as well!
b. Be aware of MORE surroundings - Call me old fashioned and/or nosey but, friend, I think it's time YOU got a little nosey and became aware of what is going on in the life of your child (pre-teen, teen and even college age) when it comes to social media. Yes, I understand that if one of your children are college age and have purchased their own phone, etc. that this presents a different approach but, it still should involve YOU - the adult - in helping that young adult conduct themselves in a positive way. For those of you with children at home - GET NOSEY AND GET INVOLVED! Do NOT allow "out of view" access to the Internet in your house. Again, call me old fashioned if you want but I believe this problem DEMANDS some extraordinary actions on the part of adults! Along the same lines, do NOT allow "unchecked" use and access to texts. In my opinion you, as an adult, should require periodic, unannounced checking of your child's phone for two reasons: 1. to make sure they are not taking part in bullying and, 2. to make sure they are not being bullied. WAKE UP and get involved in the life of your child!
3. ADULTS must STAND UP and take the LEAD! Everything I've talked about so far has been about us, as adults, taking more responsibility in this area. As adults we must understand that this problem is NOT going to go away by itself. As adults, especially as parents we must not fool ourselves into thinking, "My child wouldn't do something like that!". It may be true that under most situations your child would NOT participate in bullying. But, again, going back to my last article, sometimes a person can get involved in bullying as a way to keep from being bullied and/or to feel like they, themselves, are being accepted and that they belong, even if that "belonging" is with a less than desirable group of people.
We, as adults must wake up and get involved in the lives of our children and the children that come into our care in any way. We must be involved so that our young people will have SOMEONE that they feel like they can talk to if they feel that they are being bullied. The same must be true for the young person that has begun to bully others and doesn't like how it feels but doesn't know how to stop without being an outcast (see last paragraph).
We, as adults, must also wake up and get involved and provide an opportunity for the bully to express what is going on in their life as well. I firmly believe that bullying is a REACTION or an ACTING OUT due to a problem in that person's life. Instead of immediately condemning the one that bullies, we need to also try to do all we can to help that person. Does that make sense? There is an issue there that needs to be addressed!
Have I stressed the fact enough that this all begins with ADULTS?
We cannot teach and/or correct if we don't first SHOW, by our actions, what it is to respect those that are around us.
I look forward to your comments and thoughts. In my next article - part 5 - I will "change speeds" and look at the POSITIVE things that each of us can do in our lives that very well may change OUR lives (and the lives of those around us) forever.
Friend, just remember, you and I hold so much POWER in what we do and say each and every day. Don't EVER forget that.
Be sure to join me in my next part of this series - you won't want to miss it! I also encourage you to check out the podcast by either going to the feed on iTunes or the RSS feed.
Until then, whatever you do, be sure to...
"Make it an AWESOME day! (Who else is going to do it for you?)"